The Chadron High School gymnasium was filled to near capacity Saturday afternoon, to recognize the 62 seniors of the Class of 2021. Staff including Chadron High Principal Jerry Mack and Chadron Public Schools Superintendent Ginger Meyer acknowledged the accomplishments of the class, as well as their resilience in keeping in-person classes through the school year and having a traditional ceremony.
Though not having a traditional valedictorian and salutatorian, seniors Madeline Pelton and Emily Beye addressed their classmates with some amusing stories and inspiring words for the future. Following are their speeches:
They said that high school flies by, but I didn’t believe it until I sat down to think about it. I mean it was four years ago, nearly to the day, that we sat here in this gym at our high school orientation. You know the gym was already all set for graduating class of 2017 so Mr. Mack pulled out all the stops. He pulled a few band kids out of class to play a few measures of Pomp and Circumstance while they marched us all in an packed are small pre- to mid-pubescent bodies into these center chairs. Mr. Mack jokingly started to pretend it was our OWN graduation with the whole “Welcome graduating class of 2021” spiel. It seemed crazy to us then but fast forward and here we are. We turned from those awkward middle schoolers into mostly mature high school graduates. And I can confirm standing up here now that most of you have definitely gotten a lot more attractive
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Now I would just like to take this moment to check on the cousins, family friends and others that were obligated to be here today. I know the graduation is not really a fun experience unless you are graduate or a mother of a graduate. So I am going to try to keep it light hearted and fun for you guys. Today is an exciting day and a day that some of us never thought we would see: our graduation day. We have gone through a lot of things together, for starters making it through middle school, times of civil unrest, pulling up the senior prank, a pandemic, and TRIG with Mr. Bradley. But despite all the odds look at us now: sitting here in our caps and our gowns that do ZERO justice for our young and spry bodies, I mean come on this isn't as much of a “gown” as it is a tablecloth. This is a very big achievement so let's give ourselves a round of applause.
I am so very proud of this class and our long list of accomplishments. Our class has achieved great success in academics and activities: multiple state championships, exceptionally high test scores, classmates moving on to play collegiate sports, an abnormally large pool of 4.0 students, a student attending Princeton, a student accepted to Julliard, and a student accepted to Columbia University (that was a little shameless self plug there). I'm sure that the staff of Chadron Public Schools is going to dearly miss their “guinea pig” class. They tested everything on us: we were the first third graders in the intermediate school, new block schedules, new classes, and of course a new graduate class system, throwing out the old valedictorian and salutatorian stuff and replacing it with the “summa or magna or whatever laude system”. But I know that they trusted us to be the testers because we are strong and resilient. I've never met such a strong-willed, independent, smart, talented, and sedulous people on the planet and I am so honored to have known and grown up with you all for 18 years.
To truly show you all how much I this class has impacted Chadron High I would like to re some quotes I gathered from some of our beloved teachers at CHS. Mr. Nobiling said “I will miss you like hemorrhoids.” Now I know this is just no blame being his most charming and witty self, haha very funny Mr. Nobling. From Mrs. Paopao, “You are one amazingly talented bunch of kids. From academic achievements to sports, music to theater, there aren't many classes that can compare to you all! You always make me smile, and I am so proud of each and every one of you. I can't wait to see where your lives take you!” In true Mr. Lecher fashion, all he had to say was “This was the class that led to the term ‘sniper snapped’ so I’m happy to see them go.” But I know he really means that we kept the dating scene at CHS fun and interesting. And if you want to know what ‘sniper snapped’ means, trust me you don’t. In the wise words of our principle Mr. Mack “The Class of 2021 is already synonymous to me with Leadership. These were the seniors that lead the charge to bring us back during a pandemic to prove schools could safely return to in-person learning along with high school activities.” I also asked Mr. Sandstrom, but even though he is a teacher, I don’t think he understood the assignment. Being the history nerd he is he sent me quotes from West Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela. Thank you Sandstrom, lovely quotes, but not quite what I was looking for. But genuinely, we could not have made it through these past four years without the incredible support from the staff here in the Chadron education system so thank you to the incredible teachers.
Now as we move on to the next step in our lives, I hope we all use a little something that I wish we had more of, time. Take time to get to know your new weird roommate. Take time to adjust to your new job. Take time to adjust to the military. And if you get bunk beds, don’t be disappointed . . . take the time to realize that bunk beds do leave so much more room for activities. But most importantly just take time and enjoy it, whatever “it” may be. Enjoy the good alongside the bad, the tears alongside the laughs, and the disappointments alongside the success. If high school has taught us anything I hope it was that. Time is the most valuable asset in our lives. So we will take it slow, continue on and be our best true selves that I know we all are, and we will be just fine. Now I was not sure how to end the speech but as my mother so cheesily pointed out to me . . . we should not consider this an ending but a start. So, class of 2021 . . . it begins!
I never understood how imagining the audience naked was supposed to make you feel less nervous because honestly, I'm a little uncomfortable right now! Especially with you Mr. Pope. Anyways, graduates, we made it. As a group, we did indeed start from the very bottom. Now it looks like the whole team is here. On behalf of the class of 2021, I would like to welcome family, friends, alumni, faculty, and staff. I’d like to first began with a few thank yous. Thank you to every teacher for guiding us through these past 13 years. Thank you to our parents and guardians who have supported our endeavors and have shown us endless amounts of love as we have grown. Especially my dad and his huge army of friends. Lastly, thank you to my classmates for providing lifelong friendships.
1,359 days ago we walked into this brick building at the start of our freshman year and talked about this day, graduation day, since day one. We have come a long, long way since we first started our education years ago when we were curious about the world and what would possibly be in store for us. Not too long ago, our parents dropped us off sobbing for her first day of kindergarten with backpacks 10 times the size of us, and now here we are ready to take on the world and take on what lies ahead. Think about how far we have come individually, AND as a class. I mean Chadron High does have a reputation for its high-scoring academics in the state. You’re welcome Mr. Mack.
Looking back to freshman year, it seems like it was just yesterday there was the first day, sitting in the Commons, getting our class schedules . . . our first class . . . our first football game . . . our first high school drama. Our first . . . yeah you get it! Just think about all the music and fashion trends we lived through. Justin Bieber, mullets, the original jeggings. And don’t forget those different dance moves that were created and then got disallowed. Grinding, I mean “front to back dancing”, thank you Mr. Menke.
Before we walk the stage in front of me I want to share with you some fond memories from our last four years here at Chadron High. Zac Haug’s favorite memory was when he mooned the entire Sidney volleyball team while they were on the bus. Kennedy Stack’s was hitting the walk-off home run at the Scottsbluff tournament. Alexis Conboy - district speech OID finals. Ella O’Brien - State FFA freshman year. Kaycee Kittell - cheering in the student section with all of her friends. Latisha Ngoi - taking the last bow closing night of Musical. Zach Wordekemper - beating Alliance in football senior year. Nia Meyer - playing Fugitive during the summer. Eric Vahrenkamp - the long extended spring break junior year. Tallon Craig - Saturday nights “with the boys.” Becca Menke - playing car tag like a NASCAR driver. Reana Webster - cheering at pep rallies in football games. Gabby McMann - walking the mile in Intermediate PE. Jalei Marcy - dressing up as Captain Underpants for Gabe Blanford. Dallas Kelso - watching the guys dance to Fergalicious at the Mr. CHS pageant. Maddi Pelton - when the song Fergalicious accidentally played during the senior slideshow. Kennedy Trueblood - successfully pulling off the senior prank. Lastly, my favorite memory was probably breaking my foot during the pep rally playing dodgeball. Thank you Sandstrom and McLain!
All memories included, our four years at Chadron High were no walk in the park. We were presented with many challenges and obstacles that we had to overcome. Every student has experienced his or her fair share of disappointments and upsets, including me. Things might not always go the way we planned, but I know we can all agree that this class IS resilient. We survived Ebola, global warming, facial acne, bipolar Nebraska weather, and even the current pandemic. The fact that we made it here, decorated with these awards and accomplishments, is just a testament to our perseverance and commitment to excellent. Graduates, you are all destined for greatness. Every one of you has the potential to change the world. You all have grown into powerful intellectual individuals will make a huge footprint on this earth. Tables turn, bridges burn, and you live to learn, and oftentimes it’s the journey that teaches you the most about your destination.
So, as we part ways equipped with priceless knowledge, we embark on a life sure to be filled with challenges and success. Street poet and philosopher, Drake, once said, “Oh well I guess you lose some you win some as long as the outcome is income you know I want it all and then some.” While the idea of material success does influence our lives, I ask that you follow your dreams and do what makes you happy. Fellow Cardinals strive to be the best version of yourself. Fly through the turbulence and live life because you're a Cardinal. Don’t be average. Don’t be good. Don’t be great. Just be phenomenal. Congratulations Class of 2021! I love you guys!